RHINELANDER - Natural disasters don't happen often in the Northwoods.
But Oneida County Emergency Management needs to make sure their fire departments know what to do if it does.
Oneida County Airport wasn't just for planes this weekend.
Fire departments and more than 40 firefighters trained for a natural disaster Saturday morning.
They practice every other month, but nothing like this.
"This is the first time we actually incorporated MABAS, our Mutual Aid Box Alarm System into a water shuttle drill." said Oneida County Emergency Management director, Ken Kortenhof.
MABAS is a system that Wisconsin adopted in 2006.
"Basically what that does, we pre-plan them ahead of time and they don't have to worry about deciding at the time which units to call and where they're coming from," Kortenhof said.
"It's a good system and it works well with the fire service."
Five different stations set up on the airports runway.
First stop was checking in.
The second station was incident command post.
"Right now they're directing the different tanker trucks and different tender trucks where to go and how to shuttle water." said Kortenhof.
After that it's off to the lake to fill the tankers.
Each truck can hold about one thousand gallons of water.
Then they have to find a place to put the extra water.
"When we're at a fire or something, we have what's called drop tanks. The tenders come in and they fill those drop tanks up and then those drop tanks feed the engines. The engines spray on to the fire." Kortenhof said.
Firefighters say the training helps departments communicate better.
"We have a number of different departments that specifically don't work together," Kortenhof said.
"The MABAS system and exercises like this give them the ability to work together and to practice what they're doing. So in the event they have to in real life, it goes a lot smoother."
A smoother response could save lives during a disaster.
WISCONSIN - Mud, debris, and damaged property still cover parts of Northern Iron County after a storm ripped through there more than two weeks ago.
The lack of money to repair certain areas is largely keeping the rebuilding process from getting started.
That's why the Federal Emergency Management Agency came to Iron County Tuesday.
It surveyed the damage because of its severity and the extreme costs to fix.
"Really if it's beyond the scope of local jurisdiction, and even the states that respond," said FEMA External Affairs Officer Troy Christensen.
Wisconsin Emergency Management currently believes the damage caused by the mid-July storm is around $38 million across 10 counties and Bad River Reservation. Around $15 million of that happened in Iron County.
FEMA relies on local government like the ones in Iron County to help it assess damage.
"They have sights selected so they will be showing us a lot of these sights." Said Christensen.
Those sights included multiple towns, Saxon Harbor, and crumbled highways.
This week Iron County gave its damage estimates to FEMA.
RHINELANDER - Building a robot may seem like a pretty lofty summer camp goal, but teens in the Northwoods love the technological challenge.
It's all part of a summer camp that's heavy on science and social interaction.
13-year-old Sean Timm says the eight day robotics camp at Nicolet College mixed the best of both worlds.
"I like technology a lot more than I do outside stuff," Timm said. "It's kind of nice to have technology like drones to bring me outside. It's really fun."
Camp Instructor, Mike Wojtusik has many years of experience as a technology education teacher and robotics advisor. He wants kids to see the importance in learning these skills.
"The kids are getting experience from a mechanical engineering side, electrical engineering side, design, prototyping," said Wojtusik. "We try and cover as much as we can about the whole entire system."
Learning about robotics isn't the only thing these students do. Some of them are also exercising skills they'll need in the future.
"I think it's a great experience for them to understand what really goes on in the real world as far as a career," Wojtusik said.
Certain careers that often require teamwork.
"Challenging part is working with a team because you don't always agree on the same thing," said 12-year-old Louis Malais. "When you build a robot you do the most teamwork than I think in any other job."
As their final project, students design and build their own version of a remote control robot.
They are required to work in teams to sketch a vision, make prototypes and design a working model with aluminum.
"It's not just you know operating a piece of machinery, it's learning how that machinery is put together," Wojtusik said.
Students are piecing together machines and building future careers at the same time.
"If I were to get an opportunity to do something like this in the future, I would definitely take it," Timm said.
Throughout the course of the camp, students were exposed to prototyping, brainstorming, modeling, safety and sketching.
The last day of the robotics camp is scheduled to be Thursday, July 28.
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